This is the part where I write about seeing what is probably my favorite modern band play my hometown last night.
I will tell you how great it was. How Alex Turner was so cute and OMG HE COMBED HIS SLICKED BACK HAIR ON STAGE.
But this is going to be different. Last night, I was lucky enough to stand in a huddle with my friends and completely lose it. I also woke up with no voice or muscle movement this morning so I would call that a success or a stroke and I bet I had both because I got to stare and point and pound my fist at Alex Turner all night.
The first strange thing of the night was seeing the tangible surroundings of a sold out show. I mean, I knew it was sold out, but I didn’t think more than two seconds about it.
I guess I was in Special Snowflake mode, because all I could think of was my experience. I kind of have a past with the band. When I was younger, thinner and much poorer, I dated a touring musician. That doesn’t make him or me or anyone special. Like I said, pay attention to that “poor” part. Well, their particular brand of cutthroat yet bouncy songs about girls could actually get them booked in the UK and so off we went. I say we. I tagged along but remember it fondly. After a year or so of watching my ex play massive festivals and me stalking Alex Turner in the bus area and craft services tables behind every stage, their band was miraculously asked to open on a string of dates for the Arctic Monkeys. So I have met Alex. And I have met Matt Helders, who is the only famous person I’ve ever been lost in Wales with, by the way. I’m gonna stop with all this and say yes, I am still allowed to have hero worship if I kinda knew them once. They wont remember me, I’m sure because they are guided and greeted by countless new people every time they step off a bus, but I am very glad they finally made it to play for the first time in Birmingham and maybe even remember that they once had some sleepless and cramped days with a girl who told them a thousand times that she was from here but they still kept making jokes about Tennessee. I’m very cool with that.
That’s why I was in awe of the amount of people who live in my city were into this band. You hear “they’re huge in Europe” alot, but these guys ARE the most famous band in the UK. They are number 1 with a bullet and get more press than the economic crisis — and have for the past decade. Every British citizen knows every member’s name and love life almost by accident. The world watched them grow from what everyone thought was gonna be a punky boy band into a band full of grown ass musicians led by a man who can juke lyrics so well that when you listen out for the intricacies and the poetry inside them, he’s already taken you hostage on a jagged switchback turn. I often get jealous of how bands as good these guys get actual air play and TV time on mainstream broadcast in the UK but we get Miley Cyrus weirdness & Big Sean all over my dial.
The second strange thing from last night was seeing how many VERY YOUNG folks came out. I always sort of thought of the Arctic Monkeys as a band that got big during my prime (Alex Turner and I actually share the same birthday), so feeling old in my late twenties was definitely in effect. I had to remind myself they’ve been a band long enough now to absorb Gen X, Y, Millenials and whatever idiot “tween” synonym we’re supposed to call the youngest among us.
I didn’t memorize the set list order but I recall every song they did and didn’t play just because their songs are written on the tapestry of my twisted little brain.
I turned my phone off for the entirety of the show because I wanted to see and feel every minute. This video turned up of them playing their biggest hit I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor at Iron City last night. As you can see, the crowd moved to every beat and the band was on point.
Also, look below for a bit of the encore. It was insane. The place went crazy.
The band must’ve played for 2+ hours. The crowd was super involved and at one time, Alex Turner stopped to wipe his face with a towel and said “Do you want more? We definitely have to come back to Birmingham!”
This is more of “how is Whitney holding up” post because this was my hajj back into all the experiences that I associate with each of their songs. For example: I played “Crying Lightning” during a particular shitty part of my life where I had to get poked and shot up and hooked up to machines as part of a treatment for something that scared the shit out of me. The nurses knew that I wasn’t ready until I put my earbuds and closed my eyes and the “escape” playlist began with that song. The feeling is still very strong because I usually only get one verse in before my face is hot with painful memories but also relief that I got through that all alone.
So there’s one. We all feeling closer? Good.
Another example is “I Wanna Be Yours”. I’ve written about the famous poem that inspired the last song on their latest album. I even considered getting a tattoo of a few words of it at one time.
They graciously played “Do Me A Favour” which is one of the best love songs ever written. It’s an amazing song that describes the parts of love that hurt. The unrequited bits or the times when you care about someone so much that you’ll let them hurt you or themselves “for the greater good”.
Hearing the tracks from the new album though, especially, live was exactly what I wanted & needed at this point. I’ve seen them 5 times on my own and Ive been along for the ride on 4 of their dates in the UK. I’m a big fan of “new” Arctic Monkeys. Anything Humbug and after is my jam because it is a window into how artists grow. However, I have massive love for earlier stuff because the upbeat music and insane wordplay is what brought me into their fold.
One of our writers, Culture Czar, has a wise saying about this band. That each album is better than the last. I’m one of those who agree.
He’ll be doing a proper & detailed review of the set last night tomorrow complete with better photos and video from our staff, so I’m sorry if I just took up your brain space with story time. But man, was that shit awesome last night.